Parents are spreading “disinformation and hysteria around critical race theory,” a former teacher recently told NPR.
“Teachers can barely afford the resources for their own curriculum [so] it’s laughable that they’d shell out money [to teach] a college course,” he said.
College, of course, is the place where radical activists claim that critical race theory is found, not in K-12 classrooms.
Such claims would be laughable, absent evidence that state officials actually require teachers to teach critical race theory, a theory that that in fact advocates discrimination and views everything through the lens of skin color.
Earlier this year, Minnesota’s board for teacher licensure, which sets standards for teacher certification in the state, proposed changing standards for K-12 teachers to include training on “intersectionality,” one of critical race theory’s central ideas.
According to intersectionality, a concept developed by critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, individuals should be categorized into groups. Women and ethnic minorities, especially, have overlapping identities based on race, class, and ambiguous “gender” choices. Then, actions that are sexist, or even perceived as sexist, for example, are also racist and elitist.
Such categorizing helps with “assertions of multiple identity and the ongoing necessity of group politics,” Crenshaw writes in an essay in the 1995 book “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement,” making plain that the political goal of critical race theory is to force tensions between and among identity groups.
What the theorists are less likely to admit is that intersectionality creates a culture in which people are always on the lookout for new ways to describe how they have been offended. Every action creates victims—or as one essay on critical race theory says: “The question isn’t: Was the act racist or not? The question is: How much racism was in play?”
Minnesota’s licensure board recently held a hearing on the proposed changes, which say that a teacher should “foster” student identities, including race, class, and so-called sexual orientation and gender identity. Which makes a parent wonder whether a child also will be taught that his or her character and behavior matter, too, or just skin color and gender.
These identity groupings also may affect grading. Teachers should “[take] into consideration the impact of … cultural background” on “measuring knowledge and performance of students,” according to the licensure board’s proposed changes.
The proposals in Minnesota are similar to new standards in Illinois, where the state licensing board added critical race theory’s ideas in 2021. In fact, the Minnesota board cites Illinois’ certification requirements in its documents, as reported by the Center for the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based research institute.
Illinois’ standards made headlines last year because of provisions such as “there is often not one ‘correct’ way of doing or understanding something, and that what is seen as ‘correct’ is most often based on our lived experiences”—a standard that makes geometry challenging to explain to students.
Illinois’ standards also include intersectionality as well as “decolonization,” another idea used by critical race theorists. With decolonization, teachers should replace books by white authors, such as the modern classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,”with books about “police brutality,” for example.
Minnesota officials should be prepared for parents to speak up.
A survey of Illinoisians conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and a group called eighteen92 found that 84% of respondents said they agreed with the statement, “All people should be treated equally based on merit.”
Only 23% of those surveyed said that “teachers should embrace progressive viewpoints and perspectives when teaching U.S. history, to encourage students to advocate for social justice causes.”
“Teachers should and do celebrate our state’s increasingly diverse student body, but these proposed changes would require teachers to view students as group identities and group cultures, undermining who they are as unique individuals,” Catrin Wigfall writes for the Center for the American Experiment.
Minnesota officials should consider how unpopular the prejudice and bias of critical race theory are in Illinois and other states where surveys have found that Americans reject it. Then they should refocus teaching standards on student achievement and the pursuit of truth, instead of identity politics.
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